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Going Mobile: Survey Says ... Mobile's Time Has Come

1 Feb, 2011 By: Cameron Franks Response

Cameron Franks Head Shot

After more than 15 years of online shopping under the guise of E-commerce, there are clear signs that consumers are poised to put their money where their mobile devices are and engage in mobile commerce. According to a recent survey from Sybase 365, a subsidiary of Sybase Inc. and a company that enables mobile information services for mobile operators, financial institutions and enterprises, a third of the 1,000 consumers polled said they would purchase goods or services using their mobile phones if presented with mobile-based incentives and their current devices allowed them to do so.

Without a doubt, current economic and social conditions have created an environment ripe for the mobile economy to take hold in completely new ways. Not surprisingly, the recent holiday season has provided a catalyst. This is not to suggest retailers, merchants, telcos, banks and application developers have been playing a waiting game. Quite the contrary, the build-out of infrastructure, innovative merchant platforms and a steady beat of pilot projects have provided the momentum that consumers now appear ready to act on. The latest data clearly suggests that we're transitioning from mobile commerce awareness building to the next phase — enabling customer transactions.

Appetite for more mobile services and applications is growing, as demonstrated by the 2010 Global Consumer Acceptance and Usage Report Sybase conducted last March. The global survey found that 70 percent want additional services, and a significant portion of those users are willing to pay for these services. Retailers and marketers should take advantage of the current mobile economy. With 400 million mobile commerce users worldwide today, mobile devices — the "fourth screen" — are quickly becoming a valuable channel for advertisers to gain and retain customers.

Currently, 22 percent of respondents from the most recent Sybase 365 survey are already using their mobile devices to conduct research or compare prices when shopping. More encouragingly, when asked whether mobile-based incentives (coupons or discount offers, text or E-mail alerts or gift cards) would entice them to make a purchase on their mobile device, 32 percent of respondents said they would. Momentum is building for a widespread mobile commerce deployment and mobile advertising and marketing may be crucial to driving mainstream adoption.

SMS text messages will be an entry point for mobile commerce. It's apparent that consumers are already using their mobile devices at various points of the purchase cycle, and SMS can be the gateway to mobile transactions. The ease and appeal of SMS text coupons and discounts could be the stimulus to finally convince consumers to redeem time-sensitive, geo-targeted offers and cross the threshold to make a purchase via mobile phones.

Despite this propensity for SMS messaging, when asked their preferred method of making a purchase on mobile devices, only 9 percent of respondents who would make purchases on their device chose SMS text messages as their preferred means. While SMS text coupons are valuable marketing vessels to initiate the mobile commerce process, marketers and retailers should take into consideration the consumers' preference to complete transactions via mobile sites.

The growth of E-commerce during the past decade has been staggering, and now that security standards have been implemented and retailers have adopted a solid E-commerce strategy, it seems likely that more consumers would be willing to replicate that experience on their mobile devices.

The mobile channel, as a means to increase convenience for customers, is becoming a priority of the marketing strategy for most major retailers. Rite Aid's RX alerts are one example of how retailers are putting mobile commerce solutions into action today, and the program's success will lay the groundwork for enhanced mobile services that will enrich the customer experience.

With this RX Alerts system, Rite Aid customers who "opt-in" will receive SMS notifications when their prescriptions are ready to be collected, as well as refill and will-call reminders and other status changes. This deployment illustrates how retailers can put mobile commerce solutions to work to engage and strengthen customer relationships.

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